Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Awkward Moments

Being a good parent can be hard when your family doesn't really know what the definition of "good parenting" is. Usually, they assume you are over-protective, over-anxious, and a general kill-joy. Hey, you turned out OK. They couldn't have been that bad at the whole parenting thing. Of course, just because someone throws you in a river, and you don't drown, doesn't mean they know how to give swim lessons.

My mom called last night to say she's coming down a week after my surgery to visit and help out. This is not a bad thing. I know she wants to feel useful and that she will enjoy seeing me and the kids. However, in the middle of our conversation about the timing of her trip, she sprung this one on me:

"Well, how about I take the kids back to Illinois with me?"


"That way you won't have to worry about them while you are recovering."

"yeah.....well, for how long?

"A few weeks...or maybe most of the summer."

"uh......ummmm......," my brain worked quickly to find a way out of this,"Actually, I will probably be feeling fine by the time you would want to take them. I really won't need much help until I start chemo towards the end of June or beginning of July. Maybe then you could have them for a week. Let me talk about it with DH."

" don't trust them with me?"

"Mom, it's not that I don't trust's that you live really far away and the kids are only 6 and 8. Plus, are you going to stop taking horses for a while? Don't you have to work?" (She carts horses from race track to race track for the horses' owners.)

"Well....I'll just take them with me."

"You'll take them with you......For 6 hour drives every other day?"

"Oh, I'll make it fun for them. I know how to make things fun."

My internal monologue consisted of many unkind thoughts and groans at this point.

" can't make things that fun."

I have put her off, for a while at least.

It's uncomfortable trying to navigate through what is appropriate for kids with someone who never had an inkling about what was appropriate for kids.

I love my mother. We've been through a lot.....but let's just say that it's amazing that I am alive today.....not because she was abusive to me, though she did have a temper and liked to yell, but because of the lack of supervision we had as kids.

Things I remember from my childhood:

Riding my bike, by myself, about 4-5 miles from where I lived, at the age of 10, without anyone having a clue about where I was, or questioning why I had been gone for hours. I got on a bike trail and just kept riding.

My mother taking us to a movie theater to see Porky's...yes....that Porky's. I was probably eight.

Setting a flowery wall hanging on fire in the bathroom while playing with a lighter. I took it down and hid it. My mom never noticed it was missing.

Playing with the small container of pepper spray on my mother's key ring and accidentally pepper-spraying myself....yeah....that really hurt.

Opening the windows of my second-story, bedroom window and sitting in the window-sill with my legs dangling out over the screen.

Of course, all of these events convey what an idiot child I was, but also serve as reminders that almost all of them happened with my mother in the house, or nearby, completely clueless about what I was doing.

'Nuff said.


MInTheGap said...

I know what you mean, Terri. My mil really wants to take our kids overnight-- she lives close to 2 hours away, and some distance away from the nearest hospital.

But she's not ready for our two oldest-- they're too quick, and she gets easily distracted.

Now, I know that's orders of magnitude different than taking your kids for the whole summer with 6 hour drives, but it's the same concept: How do you tell someone you care about that you don't trust their ability to do what's best for your kids? Or that you don't trust them alone with your kids?

Maybe we're just more paranoid parents than our parents were. We're constantly bombarded by "health warnings" and stories of abductions. I know that in previous generations, baby strollers with babies in could be left outside of grocery stores!

But that doesn't mean a parent's concerns are any less valid. all it takes is for something to happen that you haven't planned on...

terri said...

Yes..the unplanned things.

Of course, it's a silly illusion to think that just because I am present nothing bad will happen. Good parenting skills can't always fend off the freak accident or the impulsive choice of a child.

Still, my parents weren't really "parent" types...probably because their own parents were messed up and confused. They can't always understand where I am coming from...which doesn't change my mind about things, but I know makes them feel badly when I say "No" to some of their ideas.

Families...they require the average person to be a politician.